In fact, there are three book sales killers, which will either drive potential book buyers away. Or worse, fail to gain their attention.
The obvious reason a book fails to sell is that it is a bad book.
There can be a hundred reasons why this is the case.
But the most common problems are that it’s badly written, with obvious typos, grammatical and spelling errors. Or it has an awfully weak first chapter that fails to grab a reader’s attention or interest.
It could also be because the book is about a topic or genre that is not at all popular, such as home blowfly breeding, or My Life as a Saab Mechanic – A Memoir.
There is little that can be done to save a very bad book.
But if a book is reasonably good, very good or even fantastic, and it is not selling, there are two problems that could be causing the lack of sales.
The good news is that these can be quickly and easily remedied.
It has an awful cover and a terrible or weak book description.
Great book covers sell books
I see a lot of books, which are perhaps quite good and very well written. But they suffer from the author’s idea that apart from being a great writer, they are also a very good book cover designer. Sadly, this is rarely, if ever the case.
Unless you are skilled at using Photoshop and have some basic knowledge about design principals and focal points, forget about going to all the trouble of designing an awful cover yourself, and get a professional.
A pre-made cover will almost always be better than what you can do yourself. And at between $40-60, they are extremely cheap.
Even a custom-designed cover at around $250 is still cheap. It will attract far more attention than a homemade cover.
The other reason to have a professionally designed cover is that the image has to work in many sizes and particularly as a thumbnail image.
This is the first thing a potential reader comes across as they scan for a new book to read. It is digital marketing 101.
So how your book cover looks as a thumbnail is absolutely vital. It needs to attract attention, within a long list of other thumbnail images.
I won’t embarrass anyone by taking book covers from Amazon to show as examples.
I will totally embarrass myself here by showing you an example of how I learned my lesson. From at first using a disastrous homemade cover or two, through to finally being sensible and getting a professional cover designed for one of my books.
Here are the three versions of one of my books, with thumbnails.
Do you see the problems with the first two covers that I designed myself? Okay, you can stop laughing now.
Yes, my author name is unreadable in thumbnail view, and the title is hardly much better while the subtitle disappeared in the second version.
As well as these obvious problems, the first two images are single-layered, boring, uninteresting and utter failures at attracting attention.
The third cover was of course professionally designed and cost me $240. Oh, and yes, the book started selling much better after I had the cover professionally designed, and people could, at last, read the book title and my name.
A book description needs to hook a reader, fast.
It’s an old truism that authors are particularly dreadful at writing their own bios, and the same can be said of book descriptions. I really do see some terrible attempts.
The most common problem is that they are far too short as if written as an afterthought, and without much care.
The second is that they fail to give a reader anything of interest or ask them questions.
After the cover, which does its job to attract attention, the book description is there to hook a reader. You need to try building rapport. Read these two examples.
“This is a story about a man who is dying and he meets a woman, who he falls in love with. They share their thoughts about life, and how they have been wrong about many things.”
Rather awful. It would probably turn people off the book. So now let’s get a copywriter on the job.
“And in the end… he found true love.
Imagine being transferred to a hospice to live out the last days of your life, only to find the love of your life you know you cannot enjoy forever?
This is a story of finding love within boundaries, as the main character is at the end of his life. What happens when people have come to that place in their lives where to do not regret anymore what they have done or had not, and finally accept life’s true intent of having reached the end?
Find out how an interesting twist so close to the end gives a man a completely new but short purpose in life, something others might never find throughout their whole life?
A story where romance meets drama… A story about reflective thoughts… A story about finding love at last…”
Do you need any convincing of which book description would attract a reader’s attention and interest?
The second example asks a question, which involves the reader. Then later it has a call to action. I purchased this short piece from a copywriter on Fiverr.
A quick search of this site brings up a long list of copywriters, who offer their services at a very reasonable price. It’s worth the time and effort to try and find a copywriter who can help you.
While Fiverr is known for $5 tasks, expect to pay around $30-$40 for a well-written 300-word book description. That’s still awfully cheap.
So if your book isn’t selling so well, would a $40 pre-made cover and a $30 book description be a good investment?
Related reading: What Defines Good Books To Read For Real Book Buyers?
I started my working life as a lithographer and spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business.
Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of Lake Geneva and the Alps.
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